Question regarding speaker wiring and component location in pre-wired house - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 07-19-2012, 10:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Dear Forum Members,

I recently moved into a pre-wired 3 story townhouse and I have problems figuring out what the best solution is to achieve my goals. I have read through many posting here and (hopefully) learnt a lot, but I am still not quite there. I am new here, so some of my descriptions might not be right on - my apologies for that.

Existing wiring and speaker lay out is as following:

(1) Living room (LR) on 2nd floor has one pair of in-ceiling speakers type JBL RIF8C.
(2) Kitchen (K) on the 2nd floor just adjacent to the living room has one pair of in-ceiling speakers type Revel Concerta IC80.
(3) Bedroom (BedR) on 3rd floor has two pairs of in-ceiling speakers type Revel Concerta IC80 plus one single Revel speaker (i.e. a total of 5 speakers)
(4) Bathroom (BaR) on 3rd floor has one pair of in-ceiling speakers type Revel Concerta IC80
(5) In case it matters for the answer, my cable modem and wireless router are in another 3rd floor room. I have good signal strength throughout the house thanks to my ASUS RT-N56U router.
(6) Distance from 1st floor to 2nd floor is around 30ft, and from 2nd floor to 3rd floor around 25ft

Speaker wires are AWG CL3 14/4c and are all landed in the 1st floor utility room. In addition, from any of the above locations 2 RG6 and 2 Cat 5E are running down to the same 1st floor utility room. I am corrently using 1 RG6 each in BedR and LR for cable boxes that are connected to HDTVs

My goal:

(1) 5.1 setup in LR for video and audio
(2) If possible, 3.1 set up in BedR for video and audio
(3) Video will be provided by way of a Samsung 3D blu ray player and an HD cable box. I am OK to not have the ability to run separate video feed to LR and BedR at the same time.
(4) Audio only for K and BaR
(5) Audio can be the same for all zones, but I want to be able to control selection of and volume in the zones on an individual basis.
(6) Audio will be provided from CD and internet based services such as Pandora. For the latter I am thinking about an iphone docking station since I can stream Pandora on my phone. I guess an alternative would be a Sonos Connect.
(7) I intend to integrate the audio/video system into Micasaverde that I intend to use for a moderate level of home automation (as I cannot afford Creston or Control4) that allows me to control some lighting, a couple of IP cameras and a door lock.
(8) Since it is a multi-story townhouse it would be very expensive to run additional wires. I want to get by with what I have

My questions:

(a) How can I build a 5.1 setup in the LR? I only have one pair of in-ceiling speaker that I can use for my back channels. Do I need to put my main A/V receiver in the LR to connect it with 2 front speakers, a central speaker and a sub? If I do so, what other equipment would I need in the basement (a matrix switch such as an Aton DLA, and another A/V receiver?), and how do I connect the equipment? I also struggle to understand how I can connect the back channel speaker that have the speaker wire landed in the 1st floor into this set up

(b) How can I build a 3.1 setup in the BedR? Here the main issue appears to be the sub woofer. Also, how would I connect the TV in the BedR to the other equipment, especially if the main A/V receiver

(c) Do I only need 1 cable box for the set up? Where should I place it - I guess it depends on the layout. Same question regarding blu ray player.

(d) If I listen to Pandora through my iphone, do I lose the ability to remote control it? Is a Sonos Connect a better solution?

(e) I intend to use an iPad to remote control everything, as micasaverde allows. Since I assume that most of the home entertainment equipment is IR controlled, I intend to use 1 or 2 SQ Blasters that translate the wifi command into IR. Does that make sense or am I on the wrong path?

Many thanks in advance for any help! If you need more insight please just ask.
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post #2 of 5 Old 07-20-2012, 07:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angiolo View Post

(a) How can I build a 5.1 setup in the LR? I only have one pair of in-ceiling speaker that I can use for my back channels. Do I need to put my main A/V receiver in the LR to connect it with 2 front speakers, a central speaker and a sub? If I do so, what other equipment would I need in the basement (a matrix switch such as an Aton DLA, and another A/V receiver?), and how do I connect the equipment? I also struggle to understand how I can connect the back channel speaker that have the speaker wire landed in the 1st floor into this set up

Are the ceiling speakers located in places that make sense for surround sound?

You'll need an AVR with pre-amp outputs to make this work. Put the AVR in the LR. Use a MuxLab stereo-audio-over-cat5e balun to send the pre-amp surround channel outputs to the utility room. Use an inexpensive amp with auto-on/off (AudioSource AMP-100) to power the surround speakers. If you build a whole house audio system in the utility room, just take the surround channel output into that system as a source. Then you could select the source for the LR among your whole-house sources. The *cleanest* way would be a combination (both an external amp and the WHA setup), with an automatic speaker selector behind both amps, triggered from the WHA system to select between the "remotely powered surround" and the whole house audio system...

Not trivial, but can be done.
Quote:
(b) How can I build a 3.1 setup in the BedR? Here the main issue appears to be the sub woofer. Also, how would I connect the TV in the BedR to the other equipment, especially if the main A/V receiver

Plenty of powered soundbar solutions for 3.1 with wireless subwoofer links. Then you don't have to connect it to anything external / remote.
Quote:
(c) Do I only need 1 cable box for the set up? Where should I place it - I guess it depends on the layout. Same question regarding blu ray player.

I don't know. How many different programs does your household need to be able to watch simultaneously? For media-based sources like BD players and game consoles, best to just put them where you need them. Unless you like walking downstairs and back to put a disc in.
Quote:
(d) If I listen to Pandora through my iphone, do I lose the ability to remote control it? Is a Sonos Connect a better solution?

Yes, and yes.
Quote:
(e) I intend to use an iPad to remote control everything, as micasaverde allows. Since I assume that most of the home entertainment equipment is IR controlled, I intend to use 1 or 2 SQ Blasters that translate the wifi command into IR. Does that make sense or am I on the wrong path?

Hard to say... Sounds like you have more research to do. Best to figure out the system plan / wiring, then choose equipment and a control scheme that work well together based on that plan...

Just note that control from an iPad / iPhone for everyday TV views is a pain. May get better with the next iOS upgrade, but touchscreens are poor replacements for handheld TV / universal remotes for simple TV viewing... For controlling a theater or a Sonos unit, different story.

Jeff

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post #3 of 5 Old 07-20-2012, 01:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Jeff,

Thanks for your fast reply. This is extremely useful!

In respect of your question: the location of the L/R in-ceiling speakers is not perfect for 5.1. since in-wall would be better, but it is still doable as they are at the back.

Let me just recapture to ensure I got it right, and ask some follow-up questions, all regarding your answer on (a)

LR:
- A/R with pre-amp output
- MuxLab stereo-audio-over-cat5e balun to send the pre-amp surround channel outputs from the pre-amp output to the utility room
- TV
- Blu ray player

Utility room:
- Audio Source AMP 100
- MuxLab stereo-audio-over-cat5e balun to receive the pre-amp surround channel outputs from the pre-amp output
- Sonos Connect
- Another external Amp for the WHA. All speakers other than the ones in the LR will be connected to this Amp, as well as the Sonos Connect (and any other source that I put in the utility room). Input 2 line-out on the AMP-100 will be connected as a source to the external Amp to make the source in the LR (i.e. the blu ray player and standard FM/AM radio from A/R) accessible for the WHA.
- Speaker Selectors (?, see following question)

Please help me with the last item. It appears to me that I should be able to get by with an external amp that can power three zones since I will need to address K, BedR and BaR. LR is powered with its own A/R. I would of course need to program scenes into the remote in order to make this operationally friendly. However, I might be missing something here. It also seems to recommend 2 speaker selectors. What would I need the second one for?

Additional question: If I wanted to listed to CD from the blu ray player in let’s say the BaR, I guess the command would be for LR A/R to turn on and address pre-amp outputs which in turn would power on the Audio Source AMP 100 (as I would put it on auto-on). I would also switch on the external Amp in the utility room and select as source the input from the AMP 100, and switch to the speaker zone for the BedR. Assuming that this is correct (and let me know if it is not), the sound would play in the BedR but also on the Back Surround speakers (as they are kind of the trigger). This can be a bit of a nuisance if someone in the other bedrooms on the 2nd floor be (which are not included in the WHA because they are not pre-wired, although they all have 2 coax and 2 Cat5e) wants to sleep while I listen to the sounds in the 3rd floor BedR. I saw on the AMP 100 that one can adjust the volume locally, but it appears that the AMP 100 cannot be controlled by IR which makes the local adjustment of volume not really practicable. Any solution for this?

Third question: Do you have a recommendation for a good external amp that can do what I need it to. I have only bought A/V receivers in the past, but it seems that for the WHA I only need a lesser solution.

Fourth question: Any recommendation for the LR A/R that will only have to power a 3.1 system, although I should be able to calibrate towards a 5.1 system by recognizing the speakers on the pre-amp/AMP 100 connection. Is calibration in a setting like this actually possible with the systems that for example Denon and Yamaha have? If not, I guess I would need to learn how to manually calibrate it. Do you know of any good guide on the internet for this?

Again, many thanks for your invaluable input!

Angiolo
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post #4 of 5 Old 07-20-2012, 01:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angiolo View Post

Utility room:
- Audio Source AMP 100
- MuxLab stereo-audio-over-cat5e balun to receive the pre-amp surround channel outputs from the pre-amp output
- Sonos Connect
- Another external Amp for the WHA. All speakers other than the ones in the LR will be connected to this Amp, as well as the Sonos Connect (and any other source that I put in the utility room). Input 2 line-out on the AMP-100 will be connected as a source to the external Amp to make the source in the LR (i.e. the blu ray player and standard FM/AM radio from A/R) accessible for the WHA.

Ha! I completely forgot about the dual-source input with auto-switching on the AMP-100 - that makes it perfect for this application...

If you want to connect the other sources from the LR into the WHA system, you'll need a separate link from the surround pre-amp output. Good news here is that MuxLab has a "Quad Audio Balun" so you can send two stereo pairs over one cat5e easily. So probably the pre-amp L/R and SL/SR outputs, with L/R going to your WHA setup and SL/SR to the AMP-100 input 1.
Quote:
- Speaker Selectors (?, see following question)
Please help me with the last item. It appears to me that I should be able to get by with an external amp that can power three zones since I will need to address K, BedR and BaR. LR is powered with its own A/R. I would of course need to program scenes into the remote in order to make this operationally friendly. However, I might be missing something here. It also seems to recommend 2 speaker selectors. What would I need the second one for?

You lost me here, but I suggest you look at a multichannel amp / WHA system. HTD.com has several systems that are excellent values. If you get a 4-zone setup, you would just use a line-out from one of the zones to run to the AMP-100 (essentially using it for all LR duties). A WHA system allows for full independent source/volume/on/off control without having to play around with multiple switchers, etc. all to share one amp...
Quote:
Additional question: If I wanted to listed to CD from the blu ray player in let’s say the BaR, I guess the command would be for LR A/R to turn on and address pre-amp outputs which in turn would power on the Audio Source AMP 100 (as I would put it on auto-on). I would also switch on the external Amp in the utility room and select as source the input from the AMP 100, and switch to the speaker zone for the BedR. Assuming that this is correct (and let me know if it is not), the sound would play in the BedR but also on the Back Surround speakers (as they are kind of the trigger). This can be a bit of a nuisance if someone in the other bedrooms on the 2nd floor be (which are not included in the WHA because they are not pre-wired, although they all have 2 coax and 2 Cat5e) wants to sleep while I listen to the sounds in the 3rd floor BedR. I saw on the AMP 100 that one can adjust the volume locally, but it appears that the AMP 100 cannot be controlled by IR which makes the local adjustment of volume not really practicable. Any solution for this?
Third question: Do you have a recommendation for a good external amp that can do what I need it to. I have only bought A/V receivers in the past, but it seems that for the WHA I only need a lesser solution.

Ok, ignoring all that as it's solved by doing a WHA system, using the AMP100 as the zone amp for the LR. As long as the WHA system has a variable zone line-output, you just set the AMP100 volume reasonably high and control volume down from there. Will take a bit of trial/error, but should work ok. The other option (which may be easier) is to just make the LR a zone on the WHA system, and feed the surround channels from the LR as a "source" to the WHA system. That source would only be useful in the LR, but gets rid of the external amp altogether. Issue is the WHA amps will be much smaller than the AMP100, so may need to play with the levels.

(I know this sounds complicated, but if you draw it out in a diagram it's not bad)
Quote:
Fourth question: Any recommendation for the LR A/R that will only have to power a 3.1 system, although I should be able to calibrate towards a 5.1 system by recognizing the speakers on the pre-amp/AMP 100 connection. Is calibration in a setting like this actually possible with the systems that for example Denon and Yamaha have?

No, all AVRs will have 5 channels, but not a big deal. Alternative would be a true pre/pro and a 3-channel external amp, which will be a lot more money... The pre-amp surround outputs will just need to be adjusted in the AVR setup menu, which is easy to do on any receiver. Get any AVR with pre-amp outputs and you'll be fine. Note that none of the 'entry level' AVRs seem to have these anymore... You'll have to move up the product line a bit.

Jeff

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post #5 of 5 Old 07-20-2012, 04:45 PM
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I like the idea of the touchscreen coffee table, for wow factor. Not sure how affordable they are at this point, but might be worth wiring for it.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

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